Friday, March 30, 2012

Living in the Storm: Love Changes Things!

The Queen Mother had planned on staying with her subjects this weekend, but her everyday Prince Charming rode in in his white Camry and whisked her away from us to SDC. Why you ask? Because love changes things.

You see this weekend is not just an ordinary weekend in the lives of my mom and dad, this Saturday they will celebrate 39 years of marriage. My dad knew this weeks ago when he originally planned the trip, and since days and dates aren't really a big deal for mom he thought they would celebrate either before or after he left. But love changes things.

If you pull back the curtains of my parent's life as it is right now you will see things that you probably could have seen 39 years ago. Laughter. Lots of laughter. A home filled with constant people, warmth, and phone calls. Pictures of a life time of friends hanging on the refrigerator. Sticky notes with dad's hand writing all over the place. Their master bed all made up. And love. Noticeable love.

Some glimpses you would catch if the curtains were pulled,  I imagine mom and dad never dreamed of taking place. Dad, as he gently lifts mom's broken body onto a plastic stool to bathe her with his farmer boy hands, and his preacher man's heart.  As his solid, confident, voice reads her her bible study because she can no longer read.  As he chops her food into bite size pieces and places her bib around her neck for meal time. As he intentionally places her hands in her lap so her wheel chair wheels don't tear up her time worn hands. And as he pulls the blankets to cover his beloved, a frail reflection of the woman he married 39 years ago, as the sun sets. How can anyone's heart survive such heart wrenching darkness, you ask? Because love changes things.

My brother Zach recently made a statement after observing mom and dad that he hopes us married people know what love is.  I thought it was deeply profound.  After 10 1/2 years a marriage I thought I had some pretty firm grasps on what love was. But after watching up close and personal these last 8 months how my Daddy loves my Mama, I fear I have much to learn.

I can't read my dad's mind. I wish I could sometimes (* wink, wink* Dad) but what I know is that after being a first hand witness over the last 30 years of my life, my dad wanted to be with my mom this Saturday because love changes things. My mom will no sooner remember this act then she will remember the numbers of the multiplication chart. But he will always know. I will always know. You, my dear readers, will always know that the love of this man is neither deterred nor diminished by the ugliness of disease.

Happy Anniversary seems so inadequate in this situation.  Thank you for being a continual example of how a God inspired, a God centered, a God powered, and a God blessed marriage should look.  Thank you for pouring love onto each other, day after day, year after year. Thank you for laying down your lives for each other. For not giving up on each other. For constantly pursuing Jesus and each other. Thank for saturating each other in grace and forgiveness so that love had a place to grow. Thank you for allowing love to change you.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Living in the Storm: Project Val

Hey friends,

Wanted to ask you for your prayers for this upcoming weekend.  My dad is driving a bus of youth to Silver Dollar City this weekend, (driving a bus of youth might be torture for some of us, but it is absolutely one of my dad's favorite weekends of the year).  The Queen Mother will be staying back and residing in the Hall Castle for the weekend. She will be attended to by 6 of her children and 6 of her grandchildren. Please pray that this weekend will be sweet, calm, and smooth for all of us. Mama loves being in constant companionship with Daddy. She likes knowing where he is at all times and when he is returning. Please pray that she will adjust to Daddy's absence and enjoy all the sleepover fun headed her way ;)!

Thank you for journeying with us!

~sara (for the whole crew)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

no surprise, we have a winner!

Earlier this year Katie submitted an essay to her school about who she thought deserved the "Kindest Kansan Citizen Award".  The judges received all kinds of essays and picked a select few as winners. The winners read their essay during an assembly and their nominee is honored.  Between Katie's brilliant essay, and the object of her essay, the combination was BOUND to be a winner!  I cried and cried when I read her essay because the recipient is unbelievably worthy of the honor. I will not go into details because Katie's essay does an amazing job of explaining to you just a glimpse of how we feel about our Auntie Erin.

"My kindest Kansas award goes to my awesome friend, Erin Lawrence. My mom grew up next door to Erin and has been a friend of mine for years. She is such a good friend that we call her “Auntie” Erin, even though she is not my real Aunt. Auntie Erin lives in Lawrence, Kansas. She has a set of twins, Abby and Elise. She has a wonderful husband named John. She has a cat and a dog. She has spent her whole life working with preschoolers with special needs. I think that it is different and cool because she still loves them even though they are different. The reason I chose her is because she is very special to my family and me, always thinks about us first, and is like a family member in my family. She is also very fun, loving and creative. When I was little she used to send me like three books each year! We love seeing her and her family. When we were moving from Virginia to Kansas I bet she was glad we were coming. Also she is always there for us. Thank you Auntie Erin for being such a good care giver!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

mission accomplished!

we had another flawless nap time, bed time, and night yesterday! zero tears. zero coercing. just a sweet little boy all grown up, self-soothing, sans pacifier!

a very wise person told me 3 was the ideal age for this weaning process, she was very right! ;)

that's one small step for anderson, one giant leap for his parents ;)!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

goodnight moon!

"Goodnight room
goodnight moon
goodnight cow jumping over the moon
goodnight light and the red balloon"

run down of day 2.

the kiddos had a babysitter yesterday morning/afternoon so i was not going to torture sweet kelly by making her put anderson down for a nap, instead i let them watch a video during rest time.... anderson passed out on his bean bag :) i thought this might cause complications again at bed time, but mark and his magic touch had anderson asleep in five minutes flat.... AND ANDERSON SLEPT ALL NIGHT!

yesterday, he asked for the pacifier throughout the day, but we just kept telling him they made a trip to the moon. unfortunately, anderson had his first encounter with a "boy" injury and sobbed for his pacifier :(

i know better than to think the process is over, but i am SO grateful that he was able to make it all night.

thank you for all your supportive texts, calls, voice mails, emails, etc.. it really does take a village of people to raise these creatures we call children :)

happy wednesday,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

i need a space ship STAT!

run down of day one.

for months we have been planning on sending the pacifiers to the moon via balloons. this was anderson's idea. he LOVES balloons and LOVES letting them go. we convinced him the pacifiers could take a trip to the moon.

so around 430 we went to price chopper to buy said balloons. he was excited. it didn't hurt that his mother and his sisters know how to up play a really uneventful moment. there was dancing and singing in the price chopper floral area.  he was telling everyone about the pacifiers impending adventure.

at approx. 535 the maiden voyage of the pacifiers to the moon initiated. we waited til mark got home, but i didn't want to wait much longer because i wanted to distract him with dinner and the bed time routine. as soon as we stepped outside to let the balloons go anderson began to recant on the whole deal. we kept moving forward. he kept crying, " i am not ready to send them to the moon, not yet mama, not yet! please mama, no!" really you could hear my heart breaking. we proceeded. we let the balloons go and the sobs continued, " i want them to come back, please go get them!!" after coming inside he continued to barter with us, "please find me one, please borrow one, please go buy me one!" more breakage.

after a few minutes he did stop crying. he is not used to getting it through out the day, so that is the one thing we have going for us. he got it at naps and bed time.

we were bracing ourselves for bed time.  we had planned on doing something we had only done a handful of times during our parenthood... we were going to soothe him to sleep. because we are firm believers in the self soothe method, our kids have put themselves to sleep from infancy. i remember katie got bronchitis at 9 months and she slept with us one night while i rubbed her back. surprisingly, anderson didn't cry at bed time. but he did take 2 hours of rubbing his back until he finally fell asleep, (this will be a short lived routine, count on it!)

i also had planned on being awakened in the middle of the night. i was. around 130 he woke up and didn't stop wailing for a half an hour. he wouldn't stop fighting me. we sang, we danced, i rubbed his back, etc..etc.. finally, i did what every good parent does... i looked for a space ship to fly to the moon and find the darn pacifiers.... no really, i turned the tv on at 130 in the morning to distract him. we watched little bear for 5 minutes, he immediately settled, i turned the tv off, he put his thumb in his mouth, and we slept on the couch together til 7! it's that whole pick your poison, remember?

it wasn't bad. it wasn't great.

today i am tweaking the plan a little. we are going to skip naps in hopes that he will be so exhausted at bed time he will just fall into his bed at 7. this plan could also back fire on me. we will see :)

we are holding steady! we are drinking coffee! we are going to prevail!

Monday, March 19, 2012

i feel like turkey...

today will go down in history as one of those days that you are doing what you know is best for your child, but you know that it will be far from easy... and could possibly cause YOU far more hardship, inconvenience, and stress than your child will ever feel. in our 8 1/2 years as parents we have had plenty of these moments, days and seasons.. like potty training, moving to the big bed, self soothing, following the "one bite" rule at the dinner table,  correcting grocery store protocol, and the all too famous trying toddler times,  etc...etc...

after months of preparation, this evening we will fly anderson's pacifiers to the moon. this is a bridge we are unfamiliar with. none of the girls used a pacifier once they found their thumbs, but anderson only wanted the pacifier.

i am a firm believer in only making these large changes when i am not pregnant, i don't have a child under 3 months, or it coincides with other major life changes. i know clear thinking, diligence, and long suffering is required for such changes.  we considered pulling the pacifier at 2 years old, but we were in the middle of making a HUGE life change to Kansas. i thought about it in the fall, but we were moving anderson to his big boy bed. so, the next bench mark that made sense was anderson's third bday.i am NOT pregnant, i don't have any other children under 3 months old, and currently we have no planned major life changes. i didn't want to do it ON his birthday in fear he would be scarred his whole life... so i waited to do it today.

in parenthood there are times that you don't mess with good. you get to strategically pick your poison. for instance, when katie was a baby she only took short, little, hour long cat naps during the day, but slept 12 hours at night. i could have pushed for a longer nap, but could have messed up the 12 hour sleep pattern at night. so, i didn't mess with good. when julia was born i insisted that her and katie nap at the same time in the afternoon, it meant for some cranky mornings with julia, but it also meant i had two hours of silence in the afternoon. i tell people all of the time, parenthood ='s being sherlock holmes, solving the daily, monthly, yearly mysteries that kiddos throw our way.

i hope to log our "cold turkey" pacifier with drawl experience.

i am a bit anxious about this process. i don't like seeing my kids in pain, in hardship, in stress, but who does? however, experience has taught me that this, in the long run, will make life easier. i also know that if i am wishy-washy and inconsistent about this he will smell my weakness and break me.

so if you think of us send some prayers our way.... or a bottle of wine ;)

here is to flying pacifiers to the moon and surviving the decision to do so!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

the real st. patrick

In honor of St. Patrick, and what he really represented.

St. Patrick's Lorica (a prayer recited for protection)

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

He's 3, He's fantastic, and He is Ours!

i just don't know how it happens.
how you bring a baby home that looks like this:

and kaa-boom, you blink, and 3 short years later they look like this:

our baby boy turns THREE, YES, THREE YEARS OLD, on Sunday.  we love our little man.

things i want to remember about him as he is today:

*he loves to cook. whenever i am in the kitchen, which is about 60% of the time, he is right there next to me.

*he gets emotions. which is going to be very beneficial in a house full of emotional girls. just the other day he found me locked in the closet having a good cry, and he was so concerned about what was wrong with me.

*he loves to hold the car door for his grams. and he loves their lunch dates.

* he loves, absolutely loves hummus. the other morning i woke up to find him sitting at the counter eating a bowl of hummus and carrots.

*he has the best little voice, EVER!

*he loves to sing a song he wrote called butterfly games, and do some beautiful choreography

*he is crazy about his dad

*he is pretty crazy about his mama, too :)

*he is not a girl. i know this sounds like i am stating the obvious, but after three girls the change is so unbelievably welcomed.

*he swings his legs when he sits at the computer

*he prefers to use the rest room outside, or while standing on a tricycle.

*he proudly picks his nose and eats it. it makes me laugh out loud just thinking about it.

*he answers to bug-a-boo

*he still is a really good cuddle monster

i think i have said it in the past, but having a boy titled my heart. i have always known that i would raise my girls with the desire for them to be women of grace and TRUE beauty. the weight of that responsibility seemed very natural. but the thought of raising a MAN who is strong, courageous, gentle, and leads by serving... makes me very grateful that he gets to watch and study his daddy who exhibits those characteristics with such humility.

three years ago, our prayers were answered when God blessed our home with a boy baby. And every day since March 18, 2009 at 4:21pm, we have been abundantly blessed by him.

Anderson Joshua, you fill our hearts and our home with a sweet, sweet unique flavor of love! May you continue to grow strong in your body, and may your heart be consumed with the undeniable love of Jesus.

We love you oodles and oodles,
Mama and Daddy

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a record.

well, we have certainly hit a record for the most visitors through our house is the shortest span of time. i think we are up to 75 visitors coming through our house in the last 5 days. I LOVE IT! I JUST LOVE IT!

a full house ='s a full heart.

here is just a glimpse of some fun things we have done this spring break. they include; brewer tours, Hawaiian family bbq's, journey to the church mark's great-great grandfather designed and engineered, open house/birthday party, tours of the fire department, multiple trips to the park, and loads of family meals around the dinner table. all in all a pretty spectacular way to spend this gorgeous week.

here are some pictures for your enjoyment!

Poppo and Grammy with their newest grandson, Jaxon!
 Poppo with his boys

 Uncle Z and Jax
 The train cake Mark made

 The church

 Andrew and Liisa
 Deb and Zach
 Aimee and Lizzie
 A crew setting ready to sing to Anderson
 Blowing out the candles
 Yummy cake
 Little hands stole the camera
 A & E
 The three amigos
 the train set
 Grams holding Jax
 The boys playing
 Fire Station Trip

 Lucy very unsure of the man in the gear :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

a moment of silence....

before the craziness begins!

not like we have an abundance of quiet moments around our home as it is... but nonetheless, we savor what we can get ;)!

and just think of all the fun born of these seven people!

here's to a fabulous weekend full of people, partying, family, friends, and LOTS of together time!

Monday, March 5, 2012

self propelled upgrade...continued...

for those of you pining to know, it was indeed our Katie bug whom gave herself the upgrade (is that the correct placement of "whom" uncle tom, before the verb?). lindsey s. was the first to guess the correct answer (to guess at all really).. therefore, she wins a private skype date with katie, where katie can ask lindsey endless questions ;)

i was thinking about self propelled upgrades this weekend, and it dawned upon we that we do this same exact thing in our spiritual lives.. hear me out.

sometimes, while most would never admit it, these are the following conversations, that in whole or in part, we have with God;

"hey God, here are our challenges for the week, let's divide them up and conquer. i can take the following burdens and worries concerning my children because I am doing really well with those lately. everyone is healthy and seemingly stable, so i've got that covered. moving on, how about you take the big dogs? the really big areas; finances, struggling relationships, world peace, the destruction of the EPA, just to name a few.  i am willing to give you those.  also, programming note, i would like to take back the areas concerning my husband, you seem to be moving a little bit too slowly and i would like to see if i can speed things up. maybe manipulate the situation a little to get the exact outcome i want without having to, you know, be patient. in addition, could you maybe transfer that really annoying couple from across the street to somewhere like, alaska?  i really appreciate these little meetings we have. i always feel so much better after i dump and run from our little convos.  i love being able to simply profit from this relationship. i like the warm fuzzies, i like the idea of being spiritual, i like to think that i can have my cake and eat it too! i don't really have to surrender my WHOLE life just some of it. i like to keep a little bit of control. well, because i am a woman, and we like control, we were just made that way. i like that i can dabble a little over here and a little over here and make this perfect concoction of what i think You should be. it suits me when i get to give myself a spiritual, self- propelled upgrade. "

over the weekend i heard my husband read a loud Isaiah 6 several times. it changed me. we often times tend to minimize our great God and put Him into this perfect, little, box with a bow on it. Our God will not be mocked by our luke warm commitment and religious sentiments. He doesn't want to divide and conquer.... He wants to REIGN in every area of our lives. He doesn't just want to trouble shoot the rough patches in our lives, He wants ALL OF US; every celebration, every valley, every misstep, every pain, every heart ache, every joy,....all of us, unhindered. He is a jealous God. He is Majestic. He sustains the world and all that is in it. There is none like Him, nor will there ever be. there is nothing to compare Him with. No one can even survive the very glimpse of His abounding power and glory. one day, no matter your preference, your good works, your best efforts, your best concoctions of who you think God should be, your disbelief in Him, your disdain for Him, or for someone who claimed to follow Him,  one day.... ONE DAY... "every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus (MY JESUS) is Lord!"

it is by this, for this, and through this, that we have LIFE!

Friday, March 2, 2012

self propelled upgrade...

the kids use our bathroom. which currently isn't that big of a deal. it's easier to monitor the little guy in our bathroom. and for a while the upstairs shower would not drain, so by the time everyone was through showering the tub was almost overflowing. not.ok. 

anyway, last night when i was getting ready to go to bed and i noticed this:

my tooth brush is on the left, mark's is on the right... then someone gave themselves a "self propelled upgrade".. after 10 1/2 years of marriage someone decided that he or she was going to place their tooth brush on hallowed ground.

anybody want to make a guess who the offender is? (is that correct usage of "who", mark littlejohn? ;)

happy weekending,